RCR: Maid of Ballymacool by Jennifer Deibel

RCR: Maid of Ballymacool by Jennifer Deibel

It’s time for a new season of the Unlocking the Past Reading Challenge: Unlock an Adventure. I’m so excited to be joining you on an adventure this year with guest reviews from members of our reading challenge participants. If you have a review you’d like to submit for upcoming months, feel free to sign up for a month here and use the Google form to submit your review. As my time has become too limited to do a suggestions post each month, I encourage you to jump over to the Unlocking the Past Reading Challenge page and ask for suggestions from there or from any of a number of amazing reader groups like Avid Readers of Christian Fiction and you can visit Christian Historical Fiction Index.

*The list of prizes available from my prize shelf can be found here.*

June’s Theme: Treasure Hunt

July’s Theme: Heroines in Unusual Professions for Their Time

The Maid of Ballymacool

by Jennifer Deibel

Review by: Crystal Caudill

This was my first Jennifer Deibel book, but it will not be my last. I was thoroughly transported to early 20th-century Ireland–so much so that after listening to the audiobook, my accent was slightly altered for days. Oops. The mystery surrounding Brianna’s life was enjoyable and had several twists I hadn’t expected despite having a good idea of where things were going. The spiritual thread was natural and refreshing. The romance was sweet in ways that become even sweeter as more of the story was revealed. The characters were multi-layered, real, and became some of my best friends. When you are an avid reader (and now a writer in my case) it becomes harder and harder to find stories that just completely absorb you. This one did, and I’m looking forward to reading through Mrs. Deibel’s other books.  

For Fans of: Irish settings, family mysteries, historical romances that make you feel a part of the world, spiritual threads that refresh and make you think without hitting you over the head


Genre: Historical Romance, early 1900s

Plot Overview:

Brianna Kelly was abandoned at Ballymacool House and Boarding School as an infant. She has worked there since she was a wee girl and will likely die there. Despite a sense that she was made for something more, Brianna feels powerless to change her situation, so she consoles herself by exploring the Ballymacool grounds, looking for hidden treasures to add to the secret trove beneath the floorboards of her room.

When Michael Wray, the son of local gentry, is sent to Ballymacool to deal with his unruly cousin, he finds himself drawn to Brianna, immediately and inescapably. There is something about her that feels so . . . familiar. When Brianna finds a piece of silver in the woods, she commits to learning its origins, with the help of Michael. What they discover may change everything.

Fan favorite Jennifer Deibel invites you back to the Emerald Isle in the 1930s for this fresh take on the Cinderella story, complete with a tantalizing mystery, a budding romance, and a chance at redemption.

Purchase Links:

Amazon  |  Baker Bookhouse  |  Barnes & Noble  |  Books-a-Million  |  Christianbook.com


Giveaway

For your chance to win a print copy, comment with what book YOU read for this month, and you will also be entered into the year-end Grand Prize Reader Basket. Use the Rafflecopter below for extra entries and to mark that you left a comment. Entries end on the 7th of each month at midnight EST, and the winner will be drawn sometime that week and notified by email. The winner will be announced don’t the Rafflecopter widget. (This month’s giveaway will be drawn later as I will have limited internet connectivity until the middle of the month, meaning my response comments will also come at the middle of the month.)

*Open to all residents of the contiguous USA, legally able to enter, and an e-book format or Amazon Gift Card will be awarded to those outside that range who are legally able to enter.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Suggested reads for July:

Courting Misfortune & Engaging Deception by Regina Jennings

Angelinga’s Resolve by Cindy Ervin Huff

Enduring Dreams by Sandra Ardoin

The Icecutter’s Daughter by Tracie Peterson

To Disguise the Truth by Jen Turano

A Model of Devotion by Mary Connealy


What did you read for the challenge? What were your thoughts on it? Would you recommend it? Any suggestions for July’s book challenge?

Author Interview: Jennifer Deibel

Author Interview: Jennifer Deibel

It is my great pleasure and honor to introduce to you Jennifer Deibel, one of the 2021 Christian fiction debut authors.

Jennifer Deibel is a middle school teacher whose work has appeared on (in)courage, on The Better Mom, in Missions Mosaic magazine, and others. With firsthand immersive experience abroad, Jennifer writes stories that help redefine home through the lens of culture, history, and family. After nearly a decade of living in Ireland and Austria, she now lives in Arizona with her husband and their three children. You can find her online at www.jenniferdeibel.com. Her debut novel, A Dance in Donegal, releases Feb. 2, 2021 from Revell and is available for pre-order wherever books are sold!

You can connect with her at Instagram, Facebook, Goodreads, or BookBub.

Now for the fun stuff! I have to admit I am partial to my Fast Five. 🙂 So settle in as I hit Jennifer with rapid-fire.

 

 

CC: Sweet or Unsweet Tea?

JD: Can I say both? LOL Honestly, though, in a pinch I’d probably go for dark!

CC: Absolutely you can say both. Good choice. 😉

 

CC: Print or E-book?

JD: Print! I love the feel, smell, the heft of it.

CC: I’m 100% with you!

 

CC: Cat or Dog person?

JD: Dog, for sure!!

CC: Who can resist a tail that wags every time they see you?

 

CC: Morning Person or Night Owl?

JD: Permanently Exhausted Pigeon. LOL

CC:  Oh that’s hilarious! I’ve not heard that one, but it’s perfect!

 

CC: Spring, Summer, Fall, or Winter?

JD: Oh, fall, most definitely!

CC: It is so beautiful!

Thanks for sharing those fun things. Let’s dive right into talking about you. 

How can we pray for you? 

JD: I’m heading into edits for book 2—which I’m so very excited about! I absolutely love this story and can’t wait to get it into readers’ hands! But I’m also in the midst of grading middle school essays, and thinking of which story idea(s) I want to pursue next. So, I’d appreciate prayers for energy and strength, but also for wisdom and discernment. And divine inspiration.

CC: Absolutely! Teaching is such a full-time and mentally draining job, I can’t imagine how you manage to balance both writing and teaching. You are definitely in our prayers!

What is your work schedule like when you’re writing?

JD: Being a teacher, I tend to write the bulk of my books during the summer. I try to balance good, big chunks of concentrated writing time with good, concentrated time with my kids—they are getting older, and won’t be home forever, so I want to be wise with my time. During the school year, I rotate evenings and weekends with writing, schoolwork/planning/grading, family time, etc.

CC: Bless you. You have so much to balance in your life. You completely amaze me. The mom guilt is hard and you definitely don’t want to miss those moments, but being called to write has its demands as well.

Now let’s dive into your debut novel, A Dance in Doengal!

After the loss of her Irish mother in the summer of 1920, Moira Doherty decides to fulfill her mother’s wish for her to leave Boston and teach in her mother’s home village of Ballymann in Donegal, Ireland. Though a few locals offer a warm welcome, others are distanced by superstition and suspicion. Rumors about a scandalous family reputation abound and threaten not only her new position but also her life.

Moira must rely on the kindness of a handful of unlikely friends including Sean, a handsome thatcher, to help her clear her family name before it’s too late. As she seeks to navigate her new life in Ireland, she may find that this is truly the life she was always meant to live.

CC: What was some of your favorite research you discovered while preparing for A Dance in Donegal?

JD: I really loved researching all the ancient traditions of Ireland. I’d experienced many of them firsthand when we lived there, but I wanted an even deeper understanding of why they do or say the things they do—things they’ve done and said for centuries, and still do to this day. I don’t want to give too much away, but there’s one major life event in particular that I just found absolutely fascinating the sheer number and depth of traditions involved in it. It’s like a well-choreographed dance, and everyone seems to automatically know their parts. Which, I loved, as it fits well with the dance theme that runs throughout the story. And it deepened my own appreciation and love for Ireland’s culture and traditions because I understood even more where they are coming from, and the rich meaning behind literally everything they do.

CC: Wow. I’m a little jealous you lived there. It’s definitely on my bucket list to go one day, but I’m glad I’ll get a glimpse of it by reading your book!

How did this story affect you as you wrote it? Did God teach you anything through the writing?

JD: So much of this story was written during or shortly after major seasons of change and transition for our family. And, much like Moira, I often found myself questioning God’s plans, and whether or not He truly knew what He was doing…or if I’d misheard/misinterpreted His leading in some way. Walking this story alongside my characters helped strengthen my own faith that God does in fact know what He’s doing, and He is good, and He is for my good…even if the circumstances He chooses to use to do that are painful.

CC: Hugs. Those are the best and most painful lessons to learn, but I’m so glad you were able to process those changes through your characters.

How do you select the names of your characters?

JD: For some of the characters, the names just came to me—I just knew the main character’s name was Moira, for example. Others, I had to look up. I wanted names that were common in that time-period, and in that area of Ireland. But I also wanted the names to match the characters and their personalities. The meanings of names are hugely important to me in my own life, so I brought that to my characters as well. I also chose harsh-sounding names for the antagonists because they are caustic people, and I wanted their names to be consistent with that.

CC: I love how much thought went into all of that! Name meanings are so fun to look up and now you’re going to have me looking up the meanings of your characters. 

Thank you so much for joining me today and providing all of us with a wonderful distraction. I have one last, fun question to give you. 

Would you rather face 100 duck-sized horses or one horse-sized duck? Why? 

JD: Oh, 100 duck-sized horses. No question. First of all, they sound completely adorable! Secondly, I feel like they might be more manageable…or at least less threatening than a horse-sized duck. I feel like one peck from that duck would be the end of me. 

CC: I can just see the beak coming at you now. LoL

Thanks for spending time with me and my readers today. I am so excited to share your story with them. READERS: You can purchase Jennifer’s book at any of the following retailers or your favorite bookseller. The reviews are rolling in and they are great. I can’t wait to dig into my copy soon.

Amazon     Baker Book House    Barnes and Noble     Books-A-Million     ChristianBook     IndieBound    Target     Walmart

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